Wednesday 22 November 2006

Save EnoughWealth

Help! I'm deep in debt and I don't know what to do. I've run up $14,384.34 on my VISA, Discover, Mastercard, Amex, and Diner's card and earn barely enough to pay the minimum each month! I'm sitting here in Starbuck's sipping my Cashacino and looking at the $18.50 doodad holder I just bought at Target (because I felt so depressed about my debt and went shopping to feel better) - I'll have to return it later today as I really shouldn't have bought it [I also shouldn't have accepted the new store card they offered me while I was there]. BTW you can send me cash donations via my Paypal account, details of which I've accidentally put up on my site. I'm basically a really nice person, just in a bit of financial trouble....

OK - that's a load of BS. It's just that I get irritated by the SaveKaryn and SaveLeighAnne's of the world - those bloggers that have run up large *personal* debts, get help from many generous people, and basically use OPM to pay off their debts.

Now, I don't have anything against Karyn or LeighAnne wanting to pay off their debts, I don't resent them getting some help, and I certainly won't criticise anyone for being generous and donating cash to such folk to help them out. BUT - I worry that this is a very a bad example of how to "solve" your CC debt problem. And I really start to worry when I read that "I am going to start helping other's with their finances as soon as I can"!

Update: For some reason this post gets a lots of hits, so if anyone came here thinking they were going to be asked to donate money, here are some good causes (I have no association with any of them):


jagular said...

I can respect your position on this, but I have a completely different perspective. I wasn't around when SaveKaryn came out, but I'm very familiar with it. I see Karyn as being a very gifted writer, who, in effect used her writing skills as a second job to pay off her debts. She had twenty thousand dollars in CC debt, managed it just fine, and then one day took a pay cut and could no longer afford what she used to be able to. Her website didn't just say, "please send me money". It was updated very frequently with stories of her life, her outlook, and her awesome sense of humor. I would pay money at the store to buy a good book. Is it any different for someone to write online for donations? My understanding is that she spent endless hours updating her website and that people really enjoyed reading about her daily exploits. In my mind that is, in effect, a second job. I just can't fault her for that. Would you be as critical of her if she had posted "Read my stories and if you like them please send a donation for what you think they are worth, this being my second job"?
Leigh Ann, on the other hand, has a different story altogether. She ran up nineteen thousand dollars in CC debt and then tried to emulate Karyn's story. But along the way she realized that it wasn't the money so much as the behavior that was bringing her down. She cut up her CC's, cut her spending to a minimum, and then set up a debt repayment plan that she stuck to until the end. Along the way, the people who read her blog became not donors, but a support network to help her out emotionally along the way. She, in turn, would use her blog as an accountability tool. She would disclose her shortcomings and get advise from people who read her blog. She stuck it out until the end and paid off all of her debt in just over a year. Yes, she did go to starbucks every week, which was the one luxury that she afforded herself along the way.
Just as Leigh Ann was getting ready to pay off her debt in full, she found out that her amount owing was higher than she had thought. She had the money to pay it all off, though, but that would have left her broke for the rest of the pay period. So as a gift to her, all of her friends online pitched in and sent her a few dollars each so that she could use the money she had to pay off her debt and still get through the pay period. It was a wonderful act of friendship on her friends' parts. It was an act of appreciation for the whole of the last year's experiences.
Ironically, on the last day, when she found out that she had more debt than she had thought, she did go shopping and bought a twelve dollar shirt. She also got a target CC.
Karyn, from SaveKaryn wrote to her and told her to return the shirt and cut up the CC. The pictures of the CC cut up are on her blog. That's the benefit of her having an online support system. She set out to try to get donations to pay off her debt, but ended up getting an education in how to budget properly, how to avoid having to get into debt, and made a few friends in the process.
I just can't fault her for that.

Now I wouldn't presume to speak for either of them, but wouldn't you agree that it could be seen as being just as irritating for someone to come in at the last minute and judge their whole process of becoming debt free based upon their first impressions? I've seen it time and time again where people will come across Leigh Ann's blog and write to her saying "Oh, you are using OPM to pay your debt. I hope you are proud of yourself", when in fact, the other people are simply there to encourage her while she is paying off her own debt. Wouldn't it be a lot more constructive to write to her and say "Hey, I understand what you are trying to do here, but it would be more beneficial to work on your budget/behavior patterns/financial planning. I'll give you some tips on it if you want"?

Now I don't know you. I'm sure you are a great guy. But just keep in mind that the impressions you get when you go to a site like that aren't necessarily accurate.

jagular said...

Thank you for your email.
Please understand that I hold you in the highest regard.